I have been a music fanatic and a fangirl my whole life, and have more recently become a Bostonian. Even though I had only been in New Hampshire, it seems like I was worlds away from Boston’s vibrant underground. I hadn’t had a period of musical awakening this big since I was in ninth grade and started listening to The Strokes. In 2014, I have encountered so many rad people, been to a ton of great shows, and heard countless cool bands. I feel like Christopher Columbus, discovering Boston music for the first time and claiming it as my own, even though it has been established by the natives for years.
SO here are some of the bands that got me excited and obsessive about the scene…
The first Boston band I really really got into was Free Pizza. I always heard people talk about their greatness, so I ventured onto their Bandcamp, and was not disappointed. You can always believe the hype when it comes to Boston bands. Their first full length, Boston, MA, is so sincere. The lyrics are geniusly simple and catchy. Every track is so fun, pop-y, and has that perfect garage rock element. They’re like their very own genre of friendly n’ fun punk. My inner fangirl could not help getting a little star struck every time I saw one of the Free Pizza QTs lurking around the Whitehaus, because in Boston there is no barrier between the artist and the audience. Sadly for me, and many Free Pizza lovers alike, these bad boys have moved to sunny Miami, FL. When I listen to Free Pizza I just have fun and remember that being young and in Boston can be really magical and then I start to dance.
BOSTON, MA by Free Pizza
I saw SaraLee back in September and have been dying to see them again since. SaraLee is the purest and boldest form of lo-fi. They have an intriguing aura of mystery around them, because when I saw them I was just like “Where did you come from?!!” and when I looked them up after I found a pretty desolate Facebook page but a well-stocked Bandcamp. I downloaded everything and listened religiously. When I started listening to SaraLee I felt like I already knew it all because I had found what I didn’t realize what was missing in my life: An amazingly cool and talented indie lo-fi duo (Sara + Lee). Sara’s vocals are so unique and hold so much power and the music is so calm and strong. It’s fuzzy and clean at the same time. Lee’s drums and Sara’s guitar are able to harmonize so well and are so balanced. And all the lyrics are incredibly smart. SaraLee makes me feel cooler just by listening to them.
SO SORRY & SOFT SOUNDS by SARALEE
So sassy, so fierce. Tomboy is definitely made up of some of the coolest girls on the scene. Every song on their EP, I’m In the Fucking Band, is fantastic and catchy. Tomboy is the modern embodiment of the riot grrrls, and they are doing it right. Their songs are so relevant to the challenges faced by today’s feminist. “I’m In the Fucking Band” is about their struggle of being at a show and everyone there thinking that they are just the girlfriends of some guy in a band, but Tomboy won’t take that. They are IN the FUCKING band and deserve your respect. Their garage rock has purpose. They take what makes them angry and turn it into something to dance to. I am so excited for their full length EP in early 2015.
In the Fucking Band / January demo by tomboy
BEN KATZMAN’S DEGREASER:
Oh my god, I love this cassette. Ben Katzman is one of the coolest dudes in Boston, and as one half of BUFU Records lives by the motto “chill mad hard”. Degreaser is pure electric rock n’ roll. Heavily influenced by Katzman’s idols, KISS and Van Halen, it doesn’t feel like he is copying them, it feels like he is sharing what his icons embody and mean to him. Katzman’s rokin’ energy is infectious and exudes positive vibes. On this album, the fun you know Katzman had making it is transferred to the listener. Which makes me really excited and amped up about rock. Degreaser’s shredding guitar power and tight vocals are a warmly welcomed throwback to the type of glam rock that just doesn’t get made anymore. And his band Acidosis is pretty sick too.
DeGreaser by Ben Katzman
IAN, fronted by Jilian Medford, is the ultimate indie singer-songwriter. I’ve never seen someone be able to unleash such powerful squeals and yells while retaining such vocal control. And man, the guitar on their debut album holds just as much emotion as the vocals. These songs as so good and so sad, but they are too good to make you sad, they just leave you feeling emotionally fulfilled and impressed. I would describe IAN as soft female-empowering grudge, mixed with sad pop. I told Jilian how much I love “If You’re Crying” and she said I made her feel like Taylor Swift, and she is like Taylor Swift in a way. She writes lyrics about what her and everybody else feels. I think what makes a great songwriter is being able to capture your emotions in a way that’s universal, because who doesn’t feel lonely and confused sometimes.
IAN by IAN
I had never heard anything like Guerilla Toss before I heard Guerilla Toss. I can’t classify them or give them a genre, and some bands are like that, unlabeled-able. They’re not just punk or experimental, and they’re more than just garage rock. G Toss was another band I heard a lot about, but first saw at Hassle Fest 6. And oh my god, they blew my mind. Front woman, Kassie’s energy and screams pierce right through you and you can feel yourself being sacrificed to the music. The songs are so fast and dirty, while maintaining the care and precision of the members NEC backgrounds. The grooves and composition of the music makes me wanna freak out in the best possible way. G Toss is utterly raw and funky. Their jams are so good that I can’t even comprehend how they were able to make them, so I just dance my confusion away. And Guerilla Toss just finished a huge European tour, which is hella cool and monumental.
Another awesome BUFU band. Littlefoot’s debut, Night of the Living Dreams, has owned me since its release. The music sounds delightfully spooky and airy, and gives me slightly French vibes, definitely from the dreamy guitar. Band leader Erica Sutherland’s voice is so beautiful and flows so perfectly with the music, it acts as another instrument. The meanings of some of the songs are hidden beneath metaphors and similes, but do not get lost because the lyrics are so sharp and gracefully witty. When I talked to Erica, she said that she writes songs to work through things, which I loved because I listen to songs to work through things. And I don’t have to worry about not being able to write songs when someone else can do it for me so well. I just want to close my eyes and drift away on a Littlefoot cloud.
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DREAMS by LITTLEFOOT
OTHER VERY HONORABLE MENTIONS: Tredici Bacci, Couple Counseling, Bent Shapes, Dylan Ewen, and The TeleVibes.
HERE’S to 2015 being just as awesome and musically thrilling as 2014!!!
(All pics from artist respective Facebook pages)